Saturday, August 4, 2012



From my own experience, I can tell you that being a waitress is the hardest job ever.  At least it was back in the 1970’s.  Tips were not big back then and the work was hard.

  My first job was as a server at Choo Choo Pancake. It was located where Fun Fest is down in Harmarville.  The employer and owner was a retired Navy officer. Mary, she was a tough broad who ran a tight ship. She was mean looking with a loud, harsh voice and always had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. For some reason, she liked me. We hit it off, and I actually liked her, I even felt bad for her at times.

  Since Ron worked during the day, I would work the night shift and weekends. We did not see each other often. To use the old clich√©’, “We were like ships passing through the night.”

 At Choo Choo, I worked with a great crew around my age. Once the restaurant closed for the night, it was our time to do the side cleanup work, off the clock!  (Without pay)   A closer had the worse job of all. We had to fill and wipe the salt and pepper shakers,plus fill the sugar jars, fill the ketchup bottles up and wipe them off, and then wipe all of the syrup bottles off, they were always so sticky,that was such a yucky job. We also had to take everything out of the freezer and wipe it down and then put everything back in again. The last job was to run the sweeper.  Everything had to be ready to go for the morning crew.

  It would have been an unbearable job, but once the restaurant closed, the fun would begin; the guys who worked as cooks would try to see if they could throw raw eggs up to the ceiling. They didn’t care that they would have a mess to clean up. We would clean while dancing to music. Sometimes we would just hang out and talk on a Saturday night after work until 5 o’clock am, and then we would all go to Mass.

 If you can, visualize how long Fun Fest parking lot is. Then picture me on the back of a motorcycle without a helmet, in my waitress dress, riding up and down the parking lot. You will laugh aloud, but it was a lot of fun and we had no fear.

 Ron & I liked to go out on Saturday nights. We were members of the Tarentum Moose and knew many people there. All of us would close the place down and then go out for breakfast. If I had to work a Sunday morning, I would come home, take a shower and go straight to work without any sleep!  Those were the good ole days that we took for granted our energy and our youth.

   I had some medical issues while pregnant with my fourth son, and had to have bed rest, so I had to quit my job. Once I had my baby and we were both okay, I got a job at a restaurant right in Springdale.  It was a bar/restaurant owned by two Italian brothers. I loved the place because people were so happy and cheerful. The name of it was West Penn Inn, it burned down years ago and both brothers have passed on.

   The only drawback was that the bar and small restaurant were downstairs, and the main restaurant and kitchen were upstairs. That made it hard on the servers. We had to make the salads downstairs in the walk in freezer, then pour the beer and collect the stiff drinks from the bar. We also had to brown the garlic bread ourselves. When the dinner was done, we had to go pick it up and take it to our table. It was not bad if the patrons were sitting at a table downstairs, but it was horrid if they were sitting upstairs, because you had to keep running up and down the steps. Especially to refills their drinks.

  One Saturday night we were super busy, I was waiting on many tables at once, (which isn’t unusual for a waitress or waiter) one was a table of 10 in the main dining room upstairs, and one of the guys happened to be my one son’s schoolteacher. They placed their salad and drink order and I went downstairs to prepare the salads, get the rolls, pour the beer, and pick up the drinks, I placed everything on a large tray and balanced it on my shoulder with my hand holding the tray up, my other hand was holding two baskets of rolls. I walked out of the bar area and started up the stairs sort of fast, when all of a sudden I TRIPPED!  The salad bowls went flying, the rolls went tumbling and the drinks spilled everywhere. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I looked down at the other waitress who was at the bottom of the steps and she started laughing, so I started to laugh, which released a flood of tears and more laughter.

  Everyone was so nice to me, the other waitresses helped me to refill and the bartenders got the drinks, but most of all, the ten sitting at the table were very nice and left me a large tip.

   I won’t even go into the story's of when I fell off the barstool while working there; or the time someone ordered a 7 & 7 and I didn't know what it was! I will save them for another time.


Anonymous said...

I don't see the need for yet another commercialized holiday....and that's what it is...another special event so Hallmark can sell cards and the florists sell flowers. Grandparents are honored on Mother's Day and Father's Day. Families shouldn't need a special day to honor their parents or grandparents. Grandparents could/should be invited over for Sunday dinner...the grand kids can make drawings etc any time to surprise the grandparents.

Just my opinion.


Anonymous said...

Hard to believe I came upon this, but I also worked at Choo Choo Pancake as a 16-yr-old over the summer of 1976. Started as a dishwasher and ended up cooking. I remember Bud and Mary -- with Mary exactly as you describe. Some interesting stories from that summer. -

Anonymous said...

How amazing to find this snippet. I, too, worked at Choo Choo Pancake. For me it was a summer job in 1976. I was 16, started as a dishwasher and ended up a cook by the end of the summer. Bud and Mary were owners and I remember Mary just as you described. Many stories from that summer that I share with my wife and kids. -

nahidworld said...

Bud and Mary were owners and I remember Mary just as you described.

Dee's shared items


This time of year makes me think of all of those things I have to be thankful for - - - -
my husband
my children
my grandchildren
my health
my freedom
always thankful for friends made